GM Veteran To Guide EV Startup

The California battery-system and electric vehicle startup Coda is putting a former General Motors executive in the driver’s seat as it tries to find a smooth road to launching a four-door sedan this year. The Santa Monica, Calif., company said it named Philip Murtaugh, “a seasoned executive” with extensive operating, manufacturing, sales and marketing experience in both the United States and Asia, as its new chief executive officer.

According to Coda, Murtaugh spent more than 30 years with GM, including a decade in high posts in China as GM revenues in the country exploded from $300 million to $7 billion. With the Murtaugh announcement, Coda also said that Miles L. Rubin, its founder, will retire as co-chairman but continue as a director and as the company’s largest shareholder.

coda four-door sedan, GM veteran hired as CEO

image via Coda

Coda has some notable financial backers, according to Bloomberg News – billionaire Philip Falcone (through his Harbinger Capital Partners); former U.S. Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs chief Henry Paulson; former Bill Clinton aide Thomas McLarty; private investment manager Aeris Capital AG; and private-equity firm Riverstone Holdings.

Coda has been trying to regain its footing after a bit of a stumble in 2010. That’s when its EV was supposed to hit the market, but a new timetable now has it appearing in the second half of this year. Earlier this month the company announced it had received a $76 million capital infusion.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.